LA Sheriff’s Deputy’s Condition Somewhat Improved After Being Badly Injured On Duty When Struck By A Drunk Driver Monday Night

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Monday night, as many readers may already know, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy who works out of the Lakewood station was struck by a vehicle driven by someone who was allegedly driving drunk, as the deputy was chasing a suspect who had already assaulted her while she was in her patrol vehicle.

Deputy Dakota Palanca is 25-years-old and has been working for the LASD for five years.

LASD Deputy Dakota Palanca

At a press conference last night, Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters that Deputy Palanca had been first on the scene for a 5:40 p.m. callout after the Lakewood station got word that a man was behaving strangely in the Paramount area.

As Palanca pulled up to the location, the man in question reportedly approached the radio car and began slugging the deputy through the vehicle’s driver’s side window, according to Sheriff Villanueva.

The deputy got out of the car and gave chase to the suspect who ran toward Alondra Blvd. and Downey Avenue. But as she crossed at the intersection, Palanca was hit by a Chevy Suburban traveling eastbound, critically injuring her.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, however, the LA Sheriff’s Department officials delivered some welcome news regarding Deputy Palanca’s condition, which had remained critical Monday night.

“We are pleased to share our deputy has been responsive to treatment, however,” wrote department in the mailing. Yet the deputy was still “facing a long road to recovery.”

Both the original suspect, who is 25, and the driver of the Suburban were taken into custody and charged. The Suburban driver has been charged for a felony DUI. The original suspect was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

“It’s tough to see one of our own in the ICU,” Sheriff Villanueva tweeted at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.  “My wife and I said a prayer for our @LKDLASD Deputy, Dakota Palanca, please keep her in your prayers.” 

At around 7 p.m., LAPD Chief Michel Moore followed up by tweeting that “the entirety of the LAPD stands behind @LASDHQ Deputy Dakota Palanca as she begins her road to recovery. Deputy Palanca was critically injured while serving her community last night, and as we enter the holiday season—we will keep her and her family in our thoughts.”

WitnessLA’s thoughts go out to Deputy Dakota Palanca and her family with hopes for her full recovery.


  • Editor’s Note:

    Dear “Dose,”

    Thanks so much for pointing out that Deputy Palanca’s name had been released. The 5:35 p.m. statement tonight from the LASD still wasn’t using it, nor did the sheriff last night. But I see other news outlets have had it for a while. Thanks again.

    It’s very good news to hear that she has started to improve. May her healing continue.


  • Although Deputy Palanca was assaulted, she still had the presence of mind, determination and courage to initiate a foot pursuit after the worthless POS that started this whole unfortunate chain of events.

    Nonetheless, Deputy Palanca was true to her calling, enforce the law and bring to justice, those that are not abiding by the law. Further, Deputy Palanca made it a point to do something. She did not IDLY stand by or become overwhelmed with fear.

    It is heart wrenching to see a fellow Deputy or anyone in law enforcement, to be the recipient of some life altering event, because some POS has no regard for any type of societal conformance.

    May the Lord touch Deputy Palanca and help her come out of this current condition she is in and may the Lord also comfort her family during this difficult time.

  • Praying for you Dakota Palanca. I’m still in shock your accident happened on November 26 in front of me, my son, and my mother. My name is Tenya Garrett and all I want for my birthday on December 3rd is for God to continue to put his healing hands on you. I just want to say I thank god that he was with me the night you got hit. I PERFORMED CPR on you. I assisted 2 police sheriffs with keeping Mrs. Palanca continuous till the ambulance arrived. That was my call of duty I went in nursing mode. I just got off work 2 hours on my way to get me something to eat. Then me and my family witnessed your accident. I was a little upset at how long the ambulance took to come help you. I thank god I was there to help assist with you until they came. I take this as my eye opener on my life as well. Life is so short and anything can happen at any given time. We need more people like you brave soul. You where just doing your job. I pray daily that God he protects us all in this world. I want to say my thoughts and prayers are with you Beautiful soul. Sending my heart to your family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving Dakota Palanca … xoxo

  • Thank you so very much, Tenya, for being there at the right time and for doing what needed to be done when it mattered so much.

    Today, at WLA we are very thankful for you personally. May you get your birthday wish, and may LA County’s courageous Dakota Palanca, heal well and quickly.


  • Tenya, you have the gratitude of so many for your help. Thank you for being there and Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Dear Tenya Garrett,

    Thank you for taking care of our little sister, Deputy Palanca. I have no doubt that God put you at the exact place and time you were needed. You were her guardian angel. We all hope you get your birthday wish. God bless you and Deputy Palanca.

  • I figured it was OK to distribute this as we are all praying for her quick recovery.

    From the City of Lakewood:

    Just wanted to give you all an update regarding LASD Deputy Dakota Palanca’s status. As of late last night, she’s shown improvement in brain activity as doctors were able to get nerve responses in her hands and feet. The pressure in her brain is slowly subsiding but the road to recovery is still a long way from home. They will continue to keep her under and run more tests on her. Last night, several of her former LASD academy classmates and former drill instructors stayed the night with her and will continue to do so until she wakes up. Please continue to keep this blue eyed angel and her family in your prayers. Special thanks to her Lakewood Station brothers and sisters who have tirelessly kept watch over her since she was admitted.

  • Superduty – Thank you for this update and thanks to all that helped her at the scene and that have stayed with her as she fights to recover. Praying that she steadily improves.

  • An hero protecting our safety we love and prayers for hoping she will make it to through Thanking you for your efforts a bit disappointed can I am why the ambulance would be late….why an ambulance which is supposed to answer to emmergency would be late…that can be the difference between life and death thanks God you were there wonderful soul

  • Deputy Palanca is out of her medically-induced coma and is making progress. Her stepdad Rick Hayden, is a retired police officer. He said,“She’s responding to some commands at times, she’s assisted by the respirator, it’s not breathing totally for her. She’s taking breaths on her own.”

    If allowed to be posted by Celeste, donations can be made at


    Dear Dose,

    Thank you so much for the update on Deputy Palanca. And, yes, of course, the link for donations is fine.

    I will hold her—and thoughts for her healing—in my heart. We all will.

    She’s a daughter any parent can be over-the-moon proud of, as can LA County.


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